When you burn your tongue, all you want is to know when it'll feel better. Burning your tongue is a common nuisance when you don't notice how hot your food or drink is before taking a bite or sip. It may even cause the papillae (the natural bumps on your tongue) to temporarily disappear. Not paying attention or neglecting to test your food and drinks before digging in is usually the cause, and it's easy to do.
An oral burn calls for a swift response if you want to ease the pain. Fortunately, there are several burning tongue remedies that can help next time a swig of steaming coffee or bite of pizza hits a nerve.
1. Sip and Soothe
Your first response to a tongue burn dictates the speed of your recovery, and this first step is simple. As with any minor burn you may experience, cold water can quickly regulate the tongue's irritation. Drink a glass to bring down the temperature of your burning tongue and to keep your mouth hydrated (saliva flow is key to ensure bacteria don't further harm the area). Stay away from hot foods and drinks, which will only irritate the burn, until it heals.
2. Cool It Down
After the "event" itself, consume something soft and cold to numb the stinging sensation naturally during the day. Reach for a food that's easy to eat, like a fruit cup, yogurt or some applesauce – all of which can help calm the burning sensation. Also, be sure to drink a glass of water at the same time to wash away any of the food debris left behind that could still hurt your tongue.
3. Swish with Salt Water
Once your mouth has cooled off, the U.S. National Library of Medicine suggests rinsing with a warm salt water mix. Add 1/8 teaspoon of salt to an 8-ounce glass of warm water, swish it around in your mouth gently and then spit it out. Salt is a natural antiseptic that can reduce swelling and pain, ultimately relieving your burn symptoms.
4. Sugarcoat It
Sugar is a little-known pain reliever available in your own pantry. A spoonful may help the medicine go down, but a tiny sprinkle over the tongue can also dull the pain when you've burned your tongue, according to Healthline. Drizzle some sugar over your tongue, let it dissolve and feel it work – but be conservative with your portions, as it isn't nearly as good for your teeth. Honey is another delicious burn cure, used in countries like India for its antibacterial properties to speed the healing process against ulcers, as explained by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
5. Take a Chill Pill
When all of the above suggestions fail to provide you the relief you need, there's always your standard over-the-counter pain medication. Take your recommended dosage of acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat the inflammation. Keep in mind hot foods can do a number on your teeth's surfaces, as well, so to allow your burned tongue to fully heal, use a toothbrush with extra soft bristles such as the Colgate® 360°® Enamel Health™ Sensitive, which is extra gentle on your mouth's soft tissue while caring for your enamel.
If you're unsure of the cause of your burning tongue symptoms, or they just don't seem to go away, check with your dentist to rule out burning tongue syndrome, which is a chronic problem.
A tongue burn eventually goes away, but in the meantime, it's comforting to know you can try some simple burning tongue remedies at home that work. Small sips and bites are important when you eat and drink things that are hot. And if your tongue burn yields no improvement, give your dentist a ring to find out what you should do next.